Career and Technical Education (CTE)
By Daron VanderHeiden, Superintendent
The Hutchinson school district has maintained and supported a comprehensive high school model through all the ebbs and flows of state and federal high school reform initiatives over the past 20 or more years. As an example, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) had a specific focus on math and reading achievement. Are math and reading important? Absolutely. However, legislation like this and the associated repercussions persuaded many school districts across our state and nation to abandon the comprehensive high school model for a more prescriptive academic-only model with a very narrow focus. Hutchinson Public Schools was not one of those districts.
Hutchinson High School supports and values core academics, technical and vocational skills, the arts, healthy living/activities, and lifelong learning skills. We believe all of these areas are equally important to the growth of our students and should be supported for each of our students based on their individual talents, interests, and abilities. We believe all of our students are going to need some type of post-secondary education, credential, or specialized training to be successful in life beyond high school. Their high school experience serves as the first steps down this path.
Why is this important if you are a parent or student in our school district? Students and parents need to be highly engaged in career planning for life after high school in the early years of their high school career. As the cost of college continues to rise, and the college credit opportunities within the high school program continue to expand, it behooves parents and students to pay close attention and take advantage of all that is offered—be that Advanced Placement (AP), Concurrent or PSEO programs—or simply those courses that help students to flourish once they move beyond the high school doors.
The traditional belief in a four-year college degree to ensure success in life has also changed dramatically. There may have been a time when a four-year college degree meant higher earnings and a better job, but the economy and workforce needs have changed. We should expand our view of college to include many of the other post-secondary options available to our students.
Remember the numbers 1-2-7. According to Success in the New Economy, by Brian Marsh, for every 1 job requiring a Master’s degree or more, 2 jobs will require a four-year college degree, and 7 jobs will require a technical degree and/or a specialized training credential. This 1-2-7 ratio is fundamental to all industries.
Talk to your son or daughter about their interests and desires as it pertains to their career and post-secondary education options. Consider their skills and abilities and what they truly enjoy doing. Align those interests and skills with courses at Hutchinson High School that will give them some real-life, hands-on experience. Take advantage of the many concurrent enrollment options that will give your child high school graduation credit as well as college credit without the additional cost of college tuition.
Kids need guidance and mentoring as they begin to make these important life decisions, and they need our help. These experiences and decisions may very well change the trajectory of their working lives. As they say, find a job you love and you will not have to work a day in your life!